Forces loyal to the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) have reportedly received advanced man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADs).
On June 28, Twitter user Ouais Hasairi shared photos showing GNA fighters inspecting what appears to be Chinese-made MANPADs of the QW-1 series. Experts suggested that the MANPADs was either QW-1M or more advanced QW-18.
QW-1 series MANPADs are “all-aspect” missile systems. It means they can be launched against an aerial target in a tail-chase engagement, in a head-on engagement or in a side-on engagement, from any direction.
The QW-1, QW-1M and QW-18 are all guided by infrared homing heads and have an operational range of up to 5 km and a flight ceiling of 4 km.
Twitter user Ouais Hasairi claimed that the MAPNPADs had been supplied by Turkey, which boosted its support for the GNA in the last few months. Turkish military assistance grows in response to Egyptian preparations for a possible intervention in support of the Libyan National Army.
However, GNA forces’ organisation is weak enough. Their supply of such advanced weapons, that can also engage civilian airliners, is a dangerous move. In the years following the fall of the Ghaddafi regime, the U.S. spent large amounts of money to collect and destroy the MANPADs left by the former Libyan military. Now this dangerous weapon is back in Libya.